Have you ever said, “Wow, what was I thinking?” You know the routine. You’re in the middle of a personal rock slide or organizational crash and wonder, “How’d I get here?” Well, since transporters only exist in science fiction, we can retrace our steps and get an idea. At that point we have to choose what to do next; learn from it, or simply keep going…bound to repeat the process.
Part of growing as a disciple of Christ is becoming like Him. Over the years, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and often wondered why. Of course, one reason is because I’m still in a fleshly body and far from perfect, but the other is best described by something Chip Ingram wrote in his book Good to Great in God’s Eyes. Look at this brief excerpt:
“Picture a train if you will. The engine is our thinking, and it pulls the first car of emotions, then the car of behavior, and then the car of consequences. Good thoughts will influence our emotions for good, which in turn will influence our behavior and produce positive consequences. Negative thoughts have the same influence in the opposite direction. What we think will determine the course of our life.” – page 15
Now before you think I’ve been hit over head with some guru’s power-of-positive-thinking textbook, let me clarify. He’s talking about a biblical principle based on passages like this:
“8Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” – Phil. 4:8 NKJV
“2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 TNIV
Meditating on such passages will directly affect daily life. Unlike eastern style meditation, which empties the mind, the Bible tells us to think deeply on scripture and be filled with the Holy Spirit (Psalm 119:15-16 & Eph. 5:18). Our thought life matters. It’s really that simple. I often talk to people who want their life to be different, but they’re not willing to think different.
In a recent discussion with some ministry leaders in our church, we identified several practical benefits to the right thinking:
- Family Life – As the spiritual leader in our home, the right thinking positions me to see my role in the proper perspective. The weight of the responsibility is still there, but what I’m trying to be looks different. It’s not a performance measurement, it’s a character measurement.
- Goal Setting – In the process of reading, praying, and contemplating, the Holy Spirit can align my thinking with His. I must give up my way of thinking, and pray for His. It’s not complicated, but it does cost and the currency is self-centered, me-oriented pursuits.
- Protection – The right thinking through Christ brings the peace of God (Phil. 4:7) which guards our hearts from the many pitfalls waiting for restless, anxious attitudes (Phil.4:7). When my mind is busy thinking on the right things, it’s not free to entertain the wrong things.
So I encourage you to find a few minutes today and pray for God’s leadership in your thinking…it sets the tone for everything else.
Below are printable Thought Train Worksheets for personal reflection or group discussion:
Click here for a version of the worksheet to the left (PDF format)
Click here for a version including Phil. 4:8 (PDF format)
Click here for a version including Rom. 12:2 (PDF format)